Date: 26th December 2007 at 1:12pm
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NRC had previously commented that O’Neill wanted him to play a new holding role which he wasn’t used to, and in most games he has either shone or looked mildly useful (the less said about the Man City pass the better though) and in todays match against Chelsea he’s hoping he can be pivotal in helping us to another 3 points.

Speaking to the official site he said:

‘Martin’s called me Makelele with legs and it’s a massive compliment. Funnily enough when I was an apprentice at Wimbledon close friends used to call me Makelele and I didn’t really like it then because I thought I was a lot more dynamic!

‘I had quite a good chat with the manager and he said he wanted me to be his defensive Makelele with legs.’

‘Makelele with legs’ eh. I can’t help but think maybe this chat took place during the club’s Xmas party? Thinking of which, who do you think would’ve played Santa and did Martin get anyone to sit on his knee?

‘It has been difficult during this transition from a box-to-box Reo-Coker to a holding Makelele. It’s a very disciplined role but I can see why he wants me to do that.

‘Getting into the England squad is my next goal. The fact that I am now a holding midfielder gives me more opportunity.

‘People have complimented me on my ability to win the ball back. I played there against Inter Milan in a pre-season game and afterwards their coach asked for my shirt and gave me a signed Inter top, which was a big compliment.

‘The Italians use that formation a lot, with someone ‘sitting’ in front of the back four. It has opened up new avenues for me.’

If NRC can master that role he’s definitely in with a good shout under the Capello’s new England. Plenty think Gareth Barry is now in with a proper chance of becoming a regular because of the style of play we expect Capello to insist on, and a livly, disciplined NRC will not only be a potential advantage for England, but it would be a definite advantage for Villa.